Post Authored By: Natalie Elizaroff
You just finished your last final as a first-year student (“1L”), and summer is right around the corner – what are your plans? You might fall into one or more of the following categories: (1) you have secured a summer job/externship/internship; (2) you are taking summer classes; (3) you are trying to relax. All of these are reasonable options, and there is no single right answer as to what you should be doing (despite what everyone will try to tell you). This is the best time to self-reflect and ask yourself ‘what worked?’ during the past year and how do you continue into your 2L year at the top of your game? No matter where you’re at in your summer, these are a few options that you should consider:
Take Summer Classes
Summer is a great opportunity to take some classes. This allows you to take a particularly difficult subject, lighten your Fall load, or maybe get started on graduating early. There are a limited number of available courses, but a simple chat with an upper-level student or career advisor can be incredibly informative as to whether summer school classes would benefit you in the long run.
Secure a Job/Internship/Externship
Strive to do some meaningful work that you can highlight on your resume. It does not matter if the work you do during the summer does not necessarily coincide with your area of interest. Any legal experience, especially litigation-based, is valuable. Learning how a firm, courthouse, or other legal facility operates gives you a leg up on your fellow classmates and makes it easier to secure an associate position later (or even a prestigious clerkship – if you are lucky)!
Review your Law School Application
Something they do not mention every day in law school is just how important it is to review your admissions application. Summer is a perfect time to request your application from the registrar and review your answers. If there are any discrepancies, it is easier to correct them now rather than when you are applying for the bar and your application is on hold due to something or another being omitted from your application. Your 1L summer is one of the ‘freer’ periods of time that you are going to have, so take advantage of it.
Apply for Scholarships/Grants
Felt a bit tight for funds during the school year? Want to mitigate the amount of loans you take out for the upcoming semester? Consider taking some time and apply for some scholarships, grants, and competitions. A lot of students fail to realize just how many opportunities are out there and how few people take advantage of them. Scholarships and grants usually have rolling deadlines to keep an eye out for, whereas writing competitions are a great way to flex your newfound writing skills while waiting for the Fall semester to kick off.
Probably the most important thing you can do is continue networking! You are never going to stop. If you attended any virtual events, lectures, or conferences, take the time to reach out to any connections you made. Keeping in contact with those individuals has numerous advantages – not only is there a chance to meet your future employer, but it is the opportunity to build a network that will support your future endeavors as a lawyer.
At the end of the day, if you worked hard during the school year, take a break – you have earned it. Even if you do not do any of the things mentioned above – or if you do all of them – make sure you give yourself a moment to breathe. 2L year is a doozy by anyone’s standard, so make sure to go in with your head held high and your energy levels at a peak!
About the author:
Natalie Elizaroff is a 2L at UIC John Marshall Law School. She is the President of the Video Game Law Society and Secretary of the Intellectual Property Law Society. Prior to law school, Natalie graduated with a B.S. in Molecular Biology from Loyola University Chicago. Natalie plans to take courses in U.S. Trademark Law and U.S. Patent Law and hopes to work in the Patent Clinic in the upcoming year.